About two weeks ago I posted an article on the 7 Things You Didn’t Know Will Happen When You Stop Eating Meat, which was a piece focused on what would happen with an individual’s health, wellbeing and lifestyle when they quit meat for good. Indeed it revealed some pretty astonishing truths about changing how your genes work and giving your gut bacteria a complete makeover!
However, do you believe we are here to only live for ourselves? Does going vegan only matter in terms of our own health and happiness? How often do we reflect on the impact our individual choices have on our surrounding environment, other people’s lives, and the Earth as a whole?
One of the things that just wouldn’t stop infuriating me is the narrow-minded opinion of people, mockingly telling me something like ‘haha, so yeah, go change the world’. Living with the limitation of this belief, we as humans would never progress and there would literally be no evolution, because no one would ever want to adopt new ideas, discoveries, lifestyles or behaviors.
When I initially stopped eating meat, I would still go to McDonalds with my meat eating friends and just buy a pack of french fries. At the time, I was not aware of the animal cruelty this company is involved in, nor was I aware of the extreme harms the production and usage of palm oil is doing to the planet. One day I came across an utterly disturbing image of a half-dead suffering monkey and an article explaining all this, along with the fact that McDonald’s mainly uses palm oil to make their fries and burgers. Ever since I gained access to this information I took the firm decision to strictly check labels and not consume anything that contains palm oil. I never bought anything from McDonalds again either.
When some of my friends heard this, they laughed at the fact that I am one person and this decision would not really make an impact. However, what will happen if 1 million other people make the very same decision that I did? What would happen if EVERYONE ON EARTH made the very same decision?
Someone would say this is impossible, but if you think about it, some time ago flying was impossible too. I see more and more people making a positive transition into vegetarianism, veganism, and changing their views on how animals should be perceived and treated.
My point is – the everyday choices we make do matter and even the choice to share this article and help it reach more people matters too! There is a ripple effect with each and every one of our actions, so let’s remember this at all times!
Now back to the 5 points of what would happen if EVERYONE stopped eating meat!
1. The world’s hungry would no longer be hungry
Yes, your beef or pork may be locally grown, but what about the animals’ feed? Vegetarians and vegans aren’t gobbling up all the grains and soybeans – cattle are. A staggering 97 per cent of the world’s soya crop is fed to livestock.
It would take 40 million tons of food to eliminate the most extreme cases of world hunger, yet nearly 20 times that amount of grain is fed to farmed animals every year in order to produce meat. In a world where an estimated 850 million people do not have enough to eat, it is criminally wasteful to feed perfectly edible food to animals on farms in order to produce a burger rather than feeding it directly to people, especially when you consider that it takes roughly six pounds of grain to produce one pound of pork. As long as a single child goes hungry, this kind of waste is unconscionable.
2. There would more land available for our growing population
Countries around the globe are bulldozing huge swathes of land in order to make room for more factory farms to house all the additional chickens, cows and other animals as well as for the huge quantities of crops needed to feed them. But when you eat plant foods directly, instead of indirectly eating bushels and bushels of grain and soya that have been funnelled through animals first, you need a lot less land.
Vegfam, a charity which funds sustainable plant-food projects, estimates that a 10-acre farm can support 60 people by growing soybeans, 24 people by growing wheat or 10 people by growing maize, but only two by raising cattle. What’s more, Dutch scientists predict that 2.7 billion hectares of land currently used for cattle grazing would be freed up by global vegetarianism, along with 100 million hectares of land currently used to grow crops for livestock.
With the population of the UK expected to exceed 70 million by 2030, we’ll need all the land we can get to accommodate the extra demand for living space and food.
3. Billions of animals would avoid a lifetime of suffering
On many industrial farms, animals are kept in cramped conditions and will never raise families, forage for food or do anything else that is natural and important to them. Most won’t even get to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they are loaded onto lorries headed for the abattoir. There is no better way to help animals and prevent their suffering than by choosing not to eat them.
4. The risk of dangerous antibiotic resistance would reduce
Factory-farmed animals are disease-ridden as a result of being crammed by the thousands into filthy sheds, which are a breeding ground for new strains of dangerous bacteria and viruses. Pigs, chickens and other animals on factory farms are fed a steady diet of drugs to keep them alive in these unsanitary, stressful conditions, increasing the chance that drug-resistant superbugs will develop.
A senior officer with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation called the intensive industrial farming of livestock an “opportunity for emerging disease”, while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that “much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary and inappropriate and makes everyone less safe”.
Sure, the overprescribing of antibiotics for humans plays a part in antibiotic resistance. But eliminating the factory farms from which many antibiotic-resistant bacteria emerge would make it more likely that we could continue to count on antibiotics to cure serious illnesses.
5. The governments would be under less financial strain
Obesity is literally killing British people. The NHS has warned that, if left unchecked, the country’s obesity rates will bankrupt the health service. Meat, dairy foods and eggs – all of which contain cholesterol and saturated fat – are the main culprits in obesity, which contributes to the UK’s top killers: heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and various types of cancer.
Yes, there are overweight vegetarians and vegans, just as there are skinny meat-eaters. But, on average, vegans are about one-tenth as likely to be obese as their meat eating counterparts. Once you replace high-fat animal-derived foods with healthy fruits, veggies and grains, it becomes a lot harder to pile on the pounds. What’s more, many health problems can be alleviated and even reversed by switching to a plant-based diet.
Going vegan might not make the world a perfect place, but it would help make it a kinder, greener, healthier one.
Dea is passionate about pursuing gentle, pure living in all its forms. She’s a veg and fruit foodie, who loves to explore the healing properties of plant-based foods and then fully indulge in their sun-filled taste. She believes that “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”